Does travel broaden the mind? This book explores this question through an innovative sociological study of gap year travel. Taking a year out overseas between school and university is an increasingly legitimate practice for young people in the UK. But what do young people get out of gap years? A wide range of 'official' sources acknowledge gap years as a way of becoming a global citizen and more employable at the same time. Instead of automatically assuming that gap years are a 'good thing', this book critically considers how this contemporary rite of passage could contribute to the reproduction of structural disadvantage at both a national and international level in relation to young people's routes into education and employment, and representations of difference and distinction in cultural practices. The key argument running throughout the book is that well-established ways of thinking about and understanding the world are used to frame gap year experiences, including how other people and places are different; the influence of class in determining what has cultural value; and what sort of identity work is worthwhile. Gap years are located at a point where a number of fields overlap: education, employment and the consumption of leisure travel. A Cosmopolitan Journey? will therefore be of interest to students, academics and practitioners in these areas.
’This is a fascinating account of gap year travel. It draws on rich empirical data to make important contributions to debates about cosmopolitanism, cultural value and identity work. It has a strong inter-disciplinary focus, and will appeal to sociologists, educationalists and geographers working in this area.’ Rachel Brooks, University of Surrey, UK ’In A Cosmopolitan Journey? Helene Snee provides an impressive and scholarly deconstruction of the cultural significance of the all too easily mocked figure of the ’gap yah’ student. Drawing on theories of cosmopolitanism and making imaginative and innovative use of online data from gappers’ blogs, Snee deftly demonstrates why we should instead take the gap year seriously.’ Sue Heath, University of Manchester, UK
Contents: Introduction; Cultural cosmopolitanism and gap year debates; Theorising good taste and worthwhile experiences in gap year travel; Researching gap year narratives; Encountering difference: gap year narratives of people and places; A traveller not a tourist: the value of cosmopolitan experiences; Gap year identity work: doing something ’worthwhile’; Conclusion; Appendix; References; Index.